#2: Zero Red

One of my favorite books, and what I came to realize was one of my best writing efforts.

A Russian aircraft carrier is hijacked by its crew as part of a scheme to sell the nuclear weapons it has stored on board. The Chopper Ops guys have to team up with some Russian special forces and get aboard the carrier before those in control make good on their threat to nuke the North Pole if anyone interferes with them.

It’s only when the Chopper Ops guys and the Russians land on the carrier do they realize there are actually two mutinous crews vying for control of the carrier – and when our heroes arrive a three-way war breaks out.

I knew this was one of the best things I’d written one day when I was reading the corrected manuscript. The way it works is like this: the writer writes the book and sends it into the publisher. The publisher then has it corrected by a copy editor. That corrected manuscript is then returned to the writer about 2 months later, and you basically can see what changes the copy editor has made. You read the entire book again, and you can make any further changes you want. Then you send the manuscript back to the publisher, who has it printed in a sort of pre-publication book form, called Proofs. They send you the proofs maybe 3 or 4 months later and you have to read the entire book yet again, and make any minor changes you want. Then you send it back to them, and eventually it hits the book stores. The whole process usually takes 9-12 months.

So I was reading the Zero Red proofs and it had been more than a half year since I’d written it. I was reading about these strange three-way battles they were having on the carrier, and was really getting into it and I caught myself thinking, “Jesuzz, what’s going to happen next?” I didn’t know — and I had written the damn thing! It was an oddly satisfying feeling.

I loved the cover too – but hated the title, which Berkley picked without my input..


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